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Can a Sauna Help You Lose Belly Fat?

Our North Americans lifestyles have caused obesity levels to reach the highest they’ve ever been.  So, is it any wonder that we’re collectively obsessed with losing weight more than ever?  But we’re also inundated with so many fad diets, superfoods and new exercise equipment that we often find it difficult to understand what will actually work to reduce fat.  Should we stop eating carbohydrates to drop pounds?  Do we need to invest in a spinning bike to increase our muscle mass?  Can a sauna help you lose body fat?  These are all legitimate questions.  We’ve seen the ketogenic diet, the TV commercials for online stationary bike programs and the mixed martial artist spending time in the sauna to cut weight for a fight.  What are we supposed to believe?

Path of Least Resistance

Of the three examples cited in the introduction, sitting in a sauna probably seems like the most appealing way to lose weight.  Who really wants to give up bread and pasta?  Does pedalling as fast as you can without actually getting anywhere captivate anyone’s imagination other than the hardcore fitness buff?  But sitting in a sauna is warm, relaxing and doesn’t require any effort whatsoever.  Sounds great, but will time in the sauna really help you lose belly fat?

Sitting in The Sauna Vs. Sitting on The Couch

Can you really lose weight in the sauna?  It’s true that the heat of the sauna will increase your heart rate, but this is mainly because dilating blood vessels reduce your blood pressure.  And although the increased heart rate will burn extra calories, it probably won’t be a whole lot more than if you were just sitting on the couch.  And it would definitely not burn as many calories as if you significantly reduced your caloric intake or spent some quality time on the exercise bike.

What About the Weight Cutting Fighter?

When you see a boxer or mixed martial artist trying to cut weight before a fight by spending time in a sauna, they’re not burning any fat unless they’re exercising at the same time – which really isn’t recommended with or without medical supervision.  What they are doing is losing fluid weight by dehydrating themselves – which is also not really recommended with or without medical supervision.  So, will spending time in a sauna help you lose belly fat?  Unfortunately, not really.

What Are the Benefits of Saunas?

Just because a sauna won’t be the sole cause of belly fat loss doesn’t mean they don’t have their benefits.  They’re definitely relaxing and can be used to reduce stress.  They can mitigate pain due to overexertion, arthritis or injury.  Regular sauna use might also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  And if you have skin problems or an asthmatic condition sauna use may help. You’ll just need to come up with a more strenuous activity to lose belly fat.

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